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I just finished watching SBS’s Birth of a Beauty which aired in 2014. The drama starred Joo Sang Wook and Han Ye Seul. With Jung Gyu Woon, Wang Ji Hye and Han Sang Jin as the second leads/antagonists.
Birth of a Beauty was the story of Sa Geum Ran, who became Sa Ra after her husband tried to kill her. Han Tae Hee was her savior, one who was doing this for his own reasons, but he was there nonetheless to help her and protect her at crucial times.
Sa Guem Ran (played by Ha Jae Sook) was the only child of a rich family. Her riches bought her a greedy husband and horrible in-laws. Despite their treatment, verbal abuse and neglect on a daily basis, she was grateful to be chosen and spent 8 years taking care of her in-laws, including the dementia-ridden granny, while her husband gallivanted off to study in America(?). When he came back, he brought his mistress and Sa Geum Ran’s replacement. When his dutiful wife refused to step aside quietly, the husband, Lee Kang Joon, killed her and married her replacement, Chae Yun, within weeks of her funeral.
Sa Geum Ran survives and begs Han Tae Hee to save her. He helps her to get extreme plastic surgery, thus changing her into Han Ye Seul, who is now named Sa Ra. Han Tae Hee is the restaurant god, and Chae Yun’s unofficial adopted brother. He has taken care of her for most of his life, and fell in love with her. He wants to separate her from Kang Joon, and thus hatches a plan to put temptation in Kang Joon’s way in the form of Sa Ra. Their scheme to get her close to Kang Joon is a success, but before Sa Ra can consummate her victory, she remembers the past and that Kang Joon actually attempted to kill her, and Chae Yun was there and witnessed it all.
The plan then turns to getting revenge on Kang Joon and Chae Yun. All such schemes fail because of Kang Joon’s connections with corrupt officials.
In the process of getting revenge, the two fall in love. Tae Hee must overcome the fact that he has fallen in love with an ajumma (I didn’t get it). And Sa Ra must learn to trust again. The two overcome their inhibitions, and promise to be with each other forever. But Kang Joon and Chae Yun do not plan on letting them go off into the sunset for a happily ever after.
Han Tae Hee has his own back story. He is the rich heir to the great Winner Group, and he witnessed his parents killed years ago. Rather than go to his granny, he ran away instead, following the final instruction his father gave him. When his evil half-brother puts granny in jail, Han Tae Hee reveals himself, leading to many attempts on his life by evil half-brother and mother of said brother. This evil brother also falls in love with Sa Ra, and manipulates her into giving up on Han Tae Hee for his own good. His manipulations, along with Tae Hee’s grandmother’s interference, succeed and Sa Ra leaves Tae Hee.
The drama then stalls for about 8 episodes. Han Tae Hee then discovers that Sa Ra is being a noble idiot, and they then get back together. Their reunion gives them superpowers, because they are able to get revenge on all parties/put all the baddies in jail in about 1.5 episodes, and then get married.
Birth of a Beauty began as a zany comedy with some really kooky characters. Sa Ra and Han Tae Hee were great, and I loved how much fun Joo Sang Wook and Han Ye Seul seemed to be having with these roles. They were honest with each other, and with themselves. And they jumped wholeheartedly into doing things, which was just fun to watch.
It then turned into a melodrama when Sa Ra discovers that Kang Joon attempted to kill her, and was now torturing her mother. We even get the forced entrapment in an insane asylum by the evil son-in-law.
The drama then turned into a revenge story, but it was still a comedy. The two were still having fun, and I had a fun time watching them think up their crazy schemes.
We then got hints of romance and then a full blown romantic comedy as the two fell in love, with the same zany fervor that they had done all other things. Tae Hee fought his attraction to an Ajumma, and Sa Ra wondered about trusting another man again.
I knew their union happened too soon, since the writer seemed to run out of ideas.
The drama then turned into a pure melodrama. Chae Yun manipulated Tae hee’s horrible granny. Disapproving granny then told Sa Ra to step off. Tae Hee’s brother then stepped in and used his clever lies to fool Sa Ra into being used against Tae Hee. She broke up with Tae Hee to protect him, and the two spent the next 8 episodes moping around, crying and hating each other (well, Tae Hee hating Sa Ra).
The truth then comes out about Sa Ra sacrificing herself for him, and the two reunite. The drama then returns to being a comedy/revenge tale, and most of our villains get jailed. Chae Yun does get off without criminal punishment, although she does get fired from her jobs as an announcer and has to leave the country.
Han Tae Hee and Sa Ra have their wedding and live happily ever after.
The drama was an extreme disappointment due to what happened in the middle. Initially, the drama was fun, but it turned into something else entirely. Sa Ra’s stupidity was incredibly annoying. And her ability to ruin things for Tae Hee in every which way proved that she never thought things through, she only reacted. I also hate noble idiocy, and feel that it went on for way too long in this drama. It got old fast, and clearly this should have been a shorter drama.
Most of the characters were hateful. Kang Joon and his entire family were selfish people, but Kang Joon was just evil. Chae Yun was hateful and learned almost nothing from her experience, and she even got to go overseas at the end of the drama. Tae Hee’s half-brother was plain evil, like his mom. And Tae Hee’s grandmother was no sweetheart. She treated her own grandson (the evil half-brother) like trash and did not care that he was growing up in poverty. One has to wonder if nurturing him would have resulted in a better man. She was hateful to Sa Ra, as well. Despite her old age, it seems that she was judgmental as ever.
The middle part of this drama actively took away from the enjoyment I felt in the first 10 episodes. That is why I give it a 3 out of 10, because I really wish that I had not watched it. While Joo Sang Wook and Han Ye Seul were great in their respective roles, even they couldn’t have saved this drama.